25-year-old Marcela* from Colombia uses her experience and knowledge of living in an institution as a child to drive her desire to work with Lumos to change care in her country.
“I met Lumos when Fundamor, which is an institution located here in Colombia, had started to wind down its institutional care program, Lumos arrived to support that process. Since then, Lumos has been working closely with me and with supporting the closing down process.”
She feels passionately her involvement with Lumos and the change she can help to bring about.
“The work that Lumos does is important, because in addition to being an organization, it always thinks about how to support and benefit young people and children worldwide. Lumos believes that for children and young people to have their human rights met, they should not be in an institution.”
Marcela’s insight and experience is invaluable. She is able to speak openly and honestly about what it is like for a child.
“Living in an institution is a bit like a process, because it is strict because of the rules. Everywhere there are rules, but I think that the institution... where there are a lot of children and young people, is always very strict. The hardest thing is that you are far away from your family, so you always think “why am I here?... I'm not with my family... why do I have to be in that place knowing that I have a family?”.
She recognises the benefits for children of growing up in a family and feels strongly that that is where children belong.
“Living with my family is a wonderful experience, because I have constant support and love... that direct love means that I know that no matter what, they are always there for me. “
She is currently working with Lumos on a project that involves young people who were under the protection of the ICBF (Colombian Family Welfare Institute). She really believes in the importance of involving young people in the work at Lumos and appreciates how the charity listens to all experience, thoughts and opinions.
Family is the most important thing for Marcela: “What I like most about my family is the love and support they give me, because I always feel like I am important to them. I always feel that union, that support and that joy of having me in their family.
As a family we celebrate achievements and victories that each family member has, because from the smallest thing, for example, getting a job, graduating or getting something that we have always wanted...we always celebrate that achievement and the aspiration that each one of us has.”
She hopes that others will support Lumos and its vital work: “I think that supporting Lumos is important because Lumos is an organization that is always working for children, young people and adolescents. It supports families and supports those processes that involve young people within a family nucleus.
“I encourage you to support Lumos because it is an organization that through love, hard work and effort enables so many young people, children and adolescents like me, to have the opportunity to live in a family.”
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*Name changed for safeguarding purposes.